New Weight Loss Drug Zepbound Receives FDA Approval Amid Calls for Comprehensive Coverage of Obesity Treatments
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval to Zepbound (tirzepatide) injection for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight and at least one weight-related condition. This approval addresses a critical medical need as obesity affects about 70% of American adults.
Zepbound, the active ingredient in Mounjaro, is administered weekly through skin injection, with dosages gradually increasing to 5 mg, 10 mg, or 15 mg. While demonstrating efficacy in trials, Zepbound may cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and thyroid C-cell tumors. The American Medical Association (AMA) has urged comprehensive coverage of evidence-based obesity treatments, including FDA-approved medications.
The AMA’s resolution responds to concerns about limited coverage by Medicare and commercial insurers, particularly for new GLP-1-based treatments like Wegovy and Zepbound, which, despite significant benefits, have high annual costs. The AMA argues that coverage restrictions create barriers for patients needing these medications to address obesity-related health issues.
While the resolution pressures insurers to reconsider coverage limitations, some doctors express reservations about the long-term effectiveness and costs of obesity drugs. They advocate for a focus on diet and lifestyle interventions. The economic impact of these drugs is debated, with conflicting studies on cost-effectiveness. The resolution passed with some dissent, underscoring ongoing discussions about the best approaches to tackle obesity as a disease.
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